Posted in reflection, social-emotional, technology

Reflecting on Designing a Blended Course

In the post-pandemic world of education, technology has remained a player on the educational team. Sometimes, as an add-on. Sometimes, as a reminder of those dark days of remote learning that we’d all like to forget about (how many of you currently have a stack of Chromebooks sitting idly on a shelf in your classroom? I thought so…). In some cases, however, teachers learned how useful devices and tech tools can be in the classroom. Rather than adding technology to an existing curriculum, how powerful would these tools be if curricula were designed deliberately around authentic and meaningful use of these tools in teaching and learning!

You can’t teach a student who isn’t at school…

A Blended Course on Chronic Absenteeism

As the teacher goes, so go the students. Likewise, teachers adopt the values modeled by their administrators. To help develop administrator comfort with the deliberate use of technology in the classroom as they examine the state of chronic absenteeism in post-pandemic education, a blended course of professional development was developed, incorporating technology in an authentic way to research, collaborate, share learning, and showcase skill growth and development.

Challenges in Course Development

When I was teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, my students often complained of their computers lagging, stating that they couldn’t log on because their Internet connection was unstable or that they were having difficulty accessing applications’ features because they needed to adjust the settings on their devices. I will confess that I often thought they were trying to avoid work when they did this. Even when they weren’t, it was frustrating to plan for a lesson but not for troubleshooting technical issues.

The development of this course turned the tables, and I quickly learned the frustrations of my former students as I struggled to upload videos that took hours to create due to slow video processing on my ancient laptop or balked at having to use a digital tool with which I wasn’t familiar (change is hard). Through my struggles, I learned that proper development of a blended or virtual course necessitates that the curriculum developer anticipate where learners will have trouble and plan for them ahead of time. I was comfortable anticipating the learning curve issues and planning for explicit instruction on the tools and techniques needed to use the embedded digital resources. I feel less prepared for technical issues that might arise, and know that a high-quality blended or virtual course must be vetted by those who are experts in the hardware and software.

Image credit: (c) 2012, Marc Prensky

Another challenge for the proposed course will be the vast entry points of the targeted audience: school administrators. Most of the younger administrators are what some refer to as “digital natives” and have not lived a day without iPhones, the Internet, and Instagram (EU Business School, 2021). Some older administrators have become “digital immigrants” and have become decent or even expert users of the technology; many are well-versed enough to lead their colleagues in learning even more ways to use technology in the classroom. There are some, however, for whom any use of technology – even creating a table in Word – provokes anxiety. All of these will be represented in the targeted learner population for this course, and anyone facilitating it must recognize that there will be a need to reteach, review, rewind, and encourage.

Redesign for an Audience of Teachers

This blended course was designed for access by school administrators, and the audience for their final product, while not graded, was to be polished enough for public presentation to a variety of outside stakeholders, including Boards of Education, Parent-Teacher Organizations, the Superintendent of Schools, or the District Data Team. How could this course be redesigned for use by principals with school teachers? It is all about the change in focus from school attendance and whole-school strategies to classroom attendance and in-class strategies.

The role of the classroom teacher in student attendance is an important one. Classroom practices can push students away from school and entice them to come (FutureEd, 2019). For example, punitive classroom practices have increased the likelihood of a student’s absence from class. On the other hand, one of my students recently came to school a bit under the weather and, when asked why stated that it was “Tasty Tuesday,” and he had earned the privilege of ice cream for a special snack that day.

Classroom practices can both encourage and discourage school attendance.

The course would be facilitated by the principal as currently written. The difference in the course when the participants are classroom teachers instead of administrators would be as follows:

  • teachers would use local school data (historical and real-time) instead of the public, school-wide data posted online by the Departments of Education;
  • teachers would be privy to more specific data regarding the reasons for individual students’ absenteeism and would be able to draw more accurate conclusions based on this;
  • teachers would use the lives of their students as case studies, extrapolating to discuss trends and patterns on a larger scale (whereas the administrators would use the “big” state data to then interpolate what was happening at their own school levels.

In essence, the course itself might not change from its current design. The facilitator, however, would need to plan probing questions that were more aligned with teachers’ experiences in the classroom and have knowledge ahead of time regarding classroom strategies to encourage attendance rather than whole-school strategies. The circumstances are similar to those of a consultant who presents a series on co-teaching to multiple school districts, multiple grade levels, and multiple student demographics: the presentation keeps its core content, but you need to adjust your table activities and reflection questions to suit your participant group.

Concluding Thoughts

The development of this course was a challenging experience that stretched both my curriculum-writing muscles and my comfort with various educational technology. I had built my “toolbox” up during remote learning and was comfortable with many tools, but admit my experience did not include many video resources. I appreciated how the curriculum writing process started with just three lesson plans – something any teacher can do – then systematically had us, as participants, find ways to authentically incorporate different audio, video, collaboration, and design tools as we rewrote and revised our work. This is a masterful way to create a curriculum, starting with what is most comfortable and then gradually layering in more novel elements.

References

EU Business School (2021). Digital natives vs digital immigrants. EU Business School. https://www.euruni.edu/blog/digital-natives-vs-digital-immigrants/

FutureEd (2019). What can teachers do to improve student attendance? Teaching Channel. https://www.teachingchannel.com/blog/what-can-teachers-do-to-improve-student-attendance

Posted in literacy, reflection, technology

Digital Storytelling as Assessment

In Module 7, we used digital storytelling as a way to share important content information and to show facility with the use of a variety of educational technology tools. Digital storytelling is a novel way to share important content and share learning. Choosing to take the perspective of one of the participant’s chronically absent students compels the participant to leverage separate realities when describing the phenomenon of chronic absenteeism by focusing on the student and his/her family rather than the record-keeping and policies of the school and district. Doing this encourages new administrators to explore the “story behind the numbers,” especially when those numbers represent children. A digital narrative is an interesting alternative to a more traditional culminating product for the unit plan created at the start of CI6163.

Reflecting on the Digital Storytelling as a Writing Strategy

As an educational consultant, I was accustomed to guiding my participants (who were teachers, administrators, and other educational leaders) as they reviewed their school data, including behavioral and attendance data, often using Toyota’s “5 Whys” technique to push them deeper and deeper as they examined numbers, figures, and trends in their data. Anyone who has used the “5 Whys” technique knows that this strategy often unearths surprises and gets participants to consider things they normally might overlook. With a chronically absent student, this technique might look something like this:

Question: Student J was absent 57 days last year. Why (1)?

Answer 1: His parents call him out all the time.

Question: Why (2)?

Answer 2: They say he’s up all night, or “had a rough night,” or “off his sleep schedule,” and let him stay home to sleep.

Question: Why (3)?

Answer 3: He talks a lot about playing video games at night for hours to earn enough video game points to buy new “skins” (i.e., equipment/uniforms/gadgets that change the appearance of video game characters).

Question: Why (4)? 

Answer 4: Even though the clinician suggested that mom remove his gaming console from his room, she hasn’t done so. He has ready access to it all night.

Question: Why (5)?

Answer 5: When mom tries to address J’s screen time with him at home, he becomes aggressive and kicks holes in the walls, so she feels if he’s not aggressive, it’s better to leave him alone.

This case study process gives a writer great information that can be used to turn an attendance problem into a narrative that can be used in digital storytelling.

Reflecting on Digital Storytelling as an Assessment

All that being said, as a participant myself, I have never used digital storytelling to turn an informational piece into a narrative, although I feel like it would be a really interesting task. I am much more comfortable with expository writing, but using a case study approach and a real student’s perspective would be a great exercise, especially as it encourages me to consider the realities of students and families and the cultural differences between the families my school serves and me.

Reflecting on Technology and Assessment

I am becoming much more comfortable producing work using a video format. I still have trouble with a number of the digital tools presented in class: I can create and download videos but have difficulty exporting them to YouTube and other sharing platforms. I can only guess why this is so. One barrier might be the older nature of my laptop and its video card. The other possibility is that I live in an area notorious for sketchy and variable connectivity (I live in a rural area far from cell towers and other digital “hubs”). If I were to use these tools with students, I would need to ensure that all participants had suitable access and connectivity. I know how frustrating these technical problems can be, and I would not want that to be an obstacle to my students’ learning.

Posted in reflection, technology

Technology and the Learning Process

Module 5 presented information on two important aspects of learning: creating the proper environment for learning to take place, and demonstrating that learning. The discussion portion of the module challenged learners to consider a way to use educational technology to create an engaging opening learning task for a lesson previously developed in this course. The assignment portion focused on the creation of the ePortfolio described in this essay.

Technology and the Learning Environment

     While this module focused specifically on lesson openers, the full of this course lays the groundwork for developing course curricula and instructional units that infuse technology into all teaching and learning aspects in a variety of authentic ways. Prior to this course, I felt confident in my ability to use a variety of open educational resources (OERs) and other technologies in my instruction, and always considered myself an innovator or early adopter when it came to any new technological resource available to educators. This course has helped me not only increase my repertoire when it comes to the types of digital tools I know how to use, and how to use them effectively but has also taught me a more systematic approach to considering how and why to use digital tools in curriculum and instruction. In Module 5, using a digital tool as part of the opening learning task accomplishes a number of essential functions of opening activities (Hardin, 2013).

     Activation of Prior Knowledge. The opening activity designed for Module 5 activated learners’ prior knowledge, not only of the previously taught content but of the idea of a digital collaborative workspace – how to add to it, how to collaborate on content, and how to navigate it. Learners, in this case, new administrators, reviewed the difference between investigable and non-investigable questions as presented in a previous mini-lesson, then categorized the questions generated in the previous lesson based on the different types of investigable questions reviewed. This work was done via an OER, Note.ly, and was done collaboratively, to scaffold learning.

     Engagement of the Learner. Many administrators meet and collaborate electronically today. While Zoom meetings are convenient, they can be tedious, especially when done routinely. Using a resource such as Padlet or Note.ly to share, digitally manipulate and organize information creates a more active way for learners to participate in a lesson, and ensures 100% engagement of the learners, as they are physically typing, moving, and conversing about the content.

     Establishment of a Purpose for Learning. Hyerle posited that all knowledge has one of eight unique structures that can be symbolized with consistent visual patterns representing distinct thought processes (Thinking Maps, 2022). In the Module 5 discussion task, the opening activity uses a Circle Map to organize question types, and participants physically move the digital items about the learning space using computer mice and touchpads. The task helps organize the information, and also emphasizes the relationships among the pieces of information and the cognitive process involved (describing a central concept: investigable questions). The physical structure of the activity helps establish the purpose, as any organizer does.

Technology and Assessment

     I have used ePortfolios before, but never really moved past the use of ePortfolios as storage. I appreciated the way the Barrett article described the three levels of ePortfolios, starting with what was familiar to me – Level I – and working through Level II and Level III ePortfolios. It was my hope with this ePortfolio is that it most closely resembles the Level III use of portfolios, moving beyond a storage place, and past a reflective tool, to becoming an information source to others.

     I also appreciate the use of a blog not only as a journaling device but also as a curating system, where the content can be organized and cross-linked so that the information becomes “evergreen,” a blogging term that describes the content that is not bound in time, but is useful beyond the date that it is posted. This blog created in Module 5 is only used for the purposes of this class. As a long-term blogger, however, I learned a great deal about how to organize my blog so that it allows for both short, journal-style entries that chronicle daily life, and linked articles that pull posts together based on themes. I was once told that everything in a blog should point back to the blog. Using the system described in this module helps keep the blog organized and increases the number of clicks within the blog, as well.

Posted in general education, homeschool, more seeds, parents, reflection, special education

The Week in Review: Gardening, Growing and Gratitude

This Week’s Posts

I hope you have been following along with my back-to-school endeavors to maintain balance so I can do right for myself, my family and my students. If you’re just joining us, fear not! Here’s what we did last week…

Launching a Workshop Model in High School

For the past two weeks, I’ve worked on my new workshop schedule, trying it out with the kids after dabbling during summer school. I really think it will be a good way to keep kids engaged, no matter where they are. They like independence, with just enough support – and not too much talking! We’re going to a reduced day (5.5 hrs) instead of our early dismissal schedule at noon from the last two weeks. In the afternoon, I’ll add more hands-on tasks: digital journaling, garden work, science experiments… Stay tuned.

Getting in that Garden…

We had a few thundershowers this week, so I had to spend less time watering the new hydrangeas that my youngest son brought home from work for me. In the garden, I thought a lot about the things that nurture my soul:  teaching troubled teens, spending time in prayer and study, and time in the garden. Taking time to care for yourself is important in unpredictable times such as these. I hope you remembered to schedule it in your day.

I don’t garden because I’m the world best gardener – I’m not. I don’t have a good track record with houseplants, for example. They REALLY must have a sense of humor – and not mind being grazed on by cats. Here’s a shot of my new palm that sits behind me in my office. It just screams, “Please, chew on me!”

I DO love gardening, but not because I raise enough food on a quarter acre to feed my family through the zombie apocalypse. This year, between spring slugs, unbearable heat and weeks with little rain, I have managed to grow salad greens, arugula, a few cherry tomato plants and some herbs. Last weekend, I stuck some ornamental cabbage and kale in the ground, and planted one last round of beans, radishes and lettuce – fall gardening, to the rescue!

Gardening gives me (and my students) peace. Something about digging in the soil, the smell of the basil in the morning, the feeling of the sunshine on my back, the music of the warblers, cicadas and spring peepers. It’s the way a catbird eyes me and follows me as I weed, snagging grubs or beetles that I toss to the side. Kids and adults benefit greatly from getting outside in the garden. 

Peace and Gratitude

In the garden, I feel God’s presence. I see evidence of His qualities in what he created: beauty, and mathematics, and patterns, and music, and warmth, and freshness, and renewal. I can talk to Him, and He answers me with a breeze, in a slowly circling  buzzard, or a butterfly on a bit of clover.

A friend loaned me her son’s UCONN pompom to cheer on my colleagues on the first day of school. I’m waving it for YOU now! You’ve got this! Even Chiquita thinks so… {Image credits: (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett

“Life-fulfilling work is never about the money – when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.” ~ Eileen Fisher, Fashion Designer

School and Life Shopping for the Week

Admit it, teacher-friends: between back-to-school and COVID stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we have all developed a heavy-duty Amazon addiction. Sorry not sorry. I put some items in my overstuffed Amazon cart this week:

I’ve also been shopping for my new journaling love: washi tape. If you haven’t starting using it, I will warn you: once you do, you’ll want to put washi tape on anything you write. One of my girls saw me using it, and I just had to give her a roll. She is currently using it to bedazzle her Chrome Book.

Check Out These New Features:

  • This Week, in Five Photos: This week, you’ll see a recap of my adventures in the garden;
  • Planner Pointers: Pop over to read how I focused on starting my day with a statement of gratitude.

Posted in general education, homeschool, more seeds, outdoor education, parents, reflection, social-emotional, special education, spirit

This Week, in Five Photos: In the Garden

Gratitude, Growth and Gardening

This week, I headed outside into the garden, both at home and at school with my students. The garden was a source of peace and connection with the world for me, and some much needed break from screens and keyboards for my students.

School Garden Curriculum
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At this writing, my fall radishes, lettuce and beans are already up, and the raised bed at school is awaiting cleaning and planting. I purchased The School Garden Curriculum for lesson ideas. The compost bins at school will be set up and ready to go for the fall, and the kids are using their new Google Docs skills to research and share ideas for planting their fall garden. Stay tuned!

On a personal note, my husband had his 8-month check up post heart transplant (January 21, 2020). He (and the new heart!) got a big gold star for doing great. I AM grateful…

Looking Ahead to Next Week…

My students have always enjoyed journaling. I have been turning my journal pages into art therapy of a sort. I think I’m going to start electronic journals with the students next week, and refer to the components in my journal as we go, starting with morning gratitude statements.

Our essential question for our first month is “What Influences the Way You Act?” Last week, we talked about culture, and family, and personal choices based on character. We even connected the concept to the early European explorers, discussing reasons why someone would want to be an explorer (desire for adventure, skills at navigating, quest for fame and power, need to be the leader over something…). To connect art with this study, I made a note in my “post-it note brain” to start vision boards with the kids next week. Gotta gather up those old magazines…

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come. It will not tarry” ~ Habakkuk 2:2

My Wish for You

I hope the week was a smooth, happy one for all of you. Enjoy your weekend, and remember: you are important in the lives of your students. You matter. You are working hard. I see you, and I love you.

Be well,

~ Kim

Posted in general education, homeschool, more seeds, parents, reflection, special education

Planner Pointers: Start Your Day With Gratitude

A Grateful Perspective

I once had an acquaintance who would say, “I’m grateful that I have an electric bill, because that means I have lights. I’m grateful to pay my rent, because that means I have a warm, dry place to sleep at night. I’m grateful for my bunions because it means I have feet. Some people don’t have any of those things.”

Gratitude does not mean ignoring the bad in life or pretending that your life is perfect. It means accepting it – no, being thankful for it – including the parts that are sad, unpleasant or disappointing, When you begin to approach each day on a positive note, and you do it over, and over, and over again, you begin to see a change in your whole outlook on life.

Be thankful for what you have. You will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey

A Little Note of Gratitude

My planner has a place to write a morning message of gratitude. But you don’t have to have a printed space in order to write a gratitude statement. Find an unused square in your school-issued plan book, or jot a note at the top of the day’s page. Even a fancy post-it note at the top of the page works. The added bonus for the post-it is that, if you have to move it throughout the day to write in your plan book, you read the gratitude statement all over again, as a reminder!

Starting your day with a written note of gratitude can help shape the rest of your day in a positive way. {Image Credit: (c) 2020 Kim M. Bennett}

Be Honest… Be Grateful…

The friend I mentioned above didn’t try to get fancy with his gratitude. When you write statements, don’t feel the need to “dress them up.” Here are the things I was grateful for in August, as an example. You can kind of see the things we went through during August of 2020:

  1. The sound of crickets chirping in the early morning ~ reminds me of childhood.
  2. A new day.
  3. The freedom to get up early in the morning.
  4. Hot coffee.
  5. A tree fell on the house we USED to live in ~ and NOT the one we live in currently.
  6. Even when things have seemed hopeless, God has provided for all of our needs, “according to His riches in glory.” {Phil 4:19}
  7. Vacation.
  8. Extra sleep on Saturdays.
  9. A job that I love.
  10. The sounds of early morning: frogs, crickets, faraway traffic, a wren singing, “Teakettle! Teakettle! Teakettle!”
  11. New day – new ideas – new possibilities.
  12. Each day can be a “do over.”
  13. Living a life of gratitude.
  14. A restart after a not-so-good day before.
  15. Time to relax.
  16. Extra sleep.
  17. An extra early start (even though I didn’t choose it) – thanks to our dog.
  18. Quiet spaces to work and think.
  19. One more day of life.
  20. A family who loves me and takes care of me when I don’t feel well.
  21. A family who can manage things while I’m under the weather.
  22. Negative COVID test!
  23. A great night’s sleep.
  24. The excitement of getting up and writing every morning.
  25. Sunshine ~ because everything seems better when the sun is shining.
  26. Fresh autumn air in the morning.
  27. Being able to return to work.
  28. My son is feeling better and can go back to work soon.
  29. A day to rest when I don’t feel well.
  30. One more weekend day.
  31. The return of the students to the building ~ I’ve missed them!

I’m laughing about all the references to extra sleep. My normal day is 4:00 am to 9:00 pm. It’s a luxury for me to sleep until 6:00 am. I don’t often do it, even on no-work days.

Living a life of gratitude starts with one simple statement ~ “Today, I’m grateful for…” {Image credit: (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett}

Your Challenge ~ 30 Days of Gratitude

Self Journal
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Don’t wait for the 1st of a month – start tomorrow. At the top of your planner, before you even begin the day, jot down one thing that you’re grateful for. Do this every day for 30 days. At the end of the month, see how much better you feel.

Namaste.

Posted in general education, homeschool, more seeds, reflection, special education

35 Things I Learned in 35 Years of Teaching

A Little About Me…

Yes, that’s right.

I’ve been an educator for 35 years. Over the course of my career I’ve had the following teaching assignments (in order):

reflection
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Working in the school garden as a STEM Coach. {Image Credit: (c) 2014, Kim M. Bennett}

Agricultural Educator

  • Intern at the Northeast Career Center and the Ohio School for the Deaf, and area elementary schools in Columbus, Ohio, as an agricultural educator;
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, teaching non-majors introductory horticulture and plant identification classes at The Ohio State University;
  • Adjunct Instructor, teaching vocational agriculture to non-degree students at the Ratcliffe School of Agriculture at the University of Connecticut;
  • Trainer and Instructor, teaching Home Depot garden center employees introductory horticulture in the Northeastern United States.
reflections 
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My first Clinical Day Treatment School classroom. {Image Credit: (c) 2018, Kim M. Bennett}

Early Childhood Educator

  • Preschool teacher, working with 3- and 4-year-olds at the Willington Nursery Cooperative in Willington, Connecticut;
  • 1:1 Educational Assistant, working with a student with multiple disabilities at Center Elementary School in Willington, Connecticut;
  • Special Education Paraprofessional, working with 1st through 3rd grade students with mild to moderate disabilities at Center Elementary School;
  • Kindergarten Paraprofessional, Center Elementary School;
  • Dual Language Teacher, working with 3rd grade students in the Companeros Program at North Windham Elementary School in Willimantic, Connecticut.

Educational Consultant

  • Education Consultant and Team Coordinator, Early Intervention and Teaching and Learning Projects, State Education Resource Center, Middletown, Connecticut;
  • Independent Education Consultant, working with educators nationwide, at Northside Consulting.
reflection
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A presentation on vocabulary centers for 6th grade teachers. {Image Credit: (c) 2012, Kim M. Bennett (A Child’s Garden)}

Homeschooler

  • Homeschool teacher/assistant principal/chief cook and bottle washer, Grades 1-10… on to 11th grade next year…

STEM Coach and Consultant

  • STEM Consultant, New London Public Schools, working with grades K-12;
  • STEM Coach, Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School, New London, Connecticut, working with educators and students in grades K-5.
reflection
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My current Clinical Day Treatment School classroom. {Image Credit: (c) 2018, Kim M. Bennett}

Special Educator

  • Special Ed intern at York Correctional Institution and Carl Robinson Correctional Institution, working with adults with disabilities in all content areas;
  • Literacy tutor at CRCI, working with adults with reading disabilities;
  • Special Educator, working at Natchaug Hospital, with students grades 6-12 in an alternative, clinical day treatment setting for students with emotional, mental health and addiction issues.

It’s taken me a long time, but I know the place where I currently roost is where I’m supposed to be. It’s my favorite position of all my time as an educator.

Saturday homeschool… because the teacher was out sick without a sub for three days. {Image Credit: (c) 2014, Kim M. Bennett}

What I’ve Learned About Teaching

Here are 35 things I learned over 35 years of being an educator – in no particular order.

  1. If you want the pruners put back in the right place, trace their outline onto the pegboard with a Sharpie. Label the outline, “pruners.”
  2. Parents do the best they can with what they have.
  3. Some teachers get a “loaded” classroom, because those kids deserve the best instruction.
  4. It’s really okay to say that you don’t want to teach anymore.
  5. Teachers don’t like having new curriculum materials every two years. It makes them feel like new teachers all over again.
  6. All of us (kids and adults) learn new ideas better when we start with concrete objects.
  7. Incarcerated adults love succeeding at school.
  8. Some kids swear and act out because that’s the only power they feel like they have.
  9. Loving your students is a bittersweet part of the job.
  10. Being a second-language learner means you know one more language than most Americans – and that’s a strength.
  11. Rubrics are great for teaching, learning and assessment.
  12. Kids with behavior problems aren’t used to hearing about their strengths.
  13. People who are white can never really understand what it’s like to be a student of color in America.
  14. Teaching teachers is harder than teaching students of any age.
  15. When looking at data, there’s always a story behind the numbers.
  16. “Homeschool” isn’t “school at home.”
  17. Many kids learn just fine when they’re “unschooled.”
  18. Kids become attached to their teacher.
  19. New teachers sometimes need a shoulder to cry on, a reminder to eat, and chocolate.
  20. Teacher’s guides are not meant to be followed cover to cover.
  21. Little kids can understand big numbers – and we should let littles work with them.
  22. Elementary and Special Ed teachers need more confidence in science and math.
  23. Social studies = the forgotten subject in elementary schools.
  24. Finding a restaurant in the phone book is not an easy task for many students with disabilities.
  25. Teens find it more fun to swear in English than in their first language (whether Spanish, Creole or American Sign Language).
  26. It’s easier to remember scientific names if you set them to music.
  27. Preschoolers and college students both need to be reminded to eat right and go to bed on time.
  28. Stations and centers are fun for littles, teens and even adult learners (even though no one likes to call them “centers” with big kids).
  29. All kids can learn to love going to the library.
  30. Play is work for little kids.
  31. A good record-keeping system makes a SpEd teacher’s life much happier.
  32. For most kids, reading and writing happens spontaneously, when provided the right environment.
  33. Teachers are historically underpaid for what they do in the United States.
  34.  Gifted and talented kids need specialized instruction, too.
  35. Children will rise to meet the bar, however high (or low) you set it.

How About You?

What are some take-aways you’ve had, as an educator? Please share.

Posted in reflection

Summer Reflections: June Wrap-up

Looking Back on the End of the School Year

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wrapping up June 2018
June brought us through the end of the 2018-29 school year, and into summer… {Image Credit (c) 2017 Kim M. Bennett}

It’s the end of June. So much has happened… so many changes. This month has brought us, in a frenzy, from the classroom or homeschool room, from the resource room or staff lounge, to our homes and the great outdoors. Here’s a look back on a busy month.

“No More Teachers, No More Books…”

In the first half of June, we closed out another calendar year. In The Ritual of Ending the School Year, we reflected on the opportunity for growth presented by gradually letting the old school year go. As we began sorting through the remnants of an academic year, we took some time to sort and file and decrease clutter in Minimalism for Teachers.

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summer vacation is here
It’s summer time… time to send those children back to their parents…

“Hot Fun in the Summertime…”

For some of us, closing the classroom door means a couple of months of rest, recharging and much-needed refreshing, and time to reconnect with our own children. In “It’s Summer Vacation… They’re BA-ACK!” we see one comedian’s humorous take on what it’s like for us to spend all that extra time with our own kids. We get some ideas for fun outdoor activities that enrich and amuse kids of all ages in “Getting Outside with Children” and try our hand at some arts and crafts in “Summer Tie Dye for All Ages.” And we learned about online tools for finding free meals and ativities for kids during the summer months in Free Summer Meals in Your Area.

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outdoor learning
rest and relaxation
Gardening is a great summer activity for “recovering teachers” and summer scholars! {Image credit (c) 2015, Kim M. Bennett}

Summer Learning Ideas

Many of us continue teaching, in some form, during the summer months. In “Four Bible Study Activities,” we learn four techniques for engaging tweens and teens in Bible studies at home or in places of worship. Many of us who homeschool continue the school year into the summer ~”Homeschool Ideas: ‘A Child’s Garden‘”links us to my homeschool nature study posts for summer ideas.

Looking Ahead to 2019-20…

I know I’m not the only teacher who has taken a teacher’s edition to the beach… am I? Even as we’re unwinding from one school year, we start thinking about the next one. We start pulling out textbooks we think we want to use the next year (“The Tao of Choosing a Textbook“) and start pondering strategies we want to use in the coming year (“Ten Strategies to Jump-Start the Reluctant Writer“).

Taking Care of Yourself, Too…

No matter what we do in the summer, we take precious time to care for ourselves. In “Simple Daily Habits to Ignite Your Passion for Teaching,” we get ideas for filling our empty cup so we bring our best selves back to the classroom in the fall. It’s going to be a great year, 2019-20…

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summer vacation
beach time
Refresh… recharge… reconnect… it’s summer time. {Image credit (c) 2018, Kim M. Bennett}

Attention, All Educators… Summer e-Book Sale!

Whether you are new to notebooking or science journaling, or a veteran looking for some new ideas, check out my Summer e-Book Sale! Discounts on all summer items from 7/2/2019 to 7/5/2019, only.

Check out the Summer e-Book Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers (July 2-5, 2019 only)

{ This blog is features in Top 100 Special Education Blogs}